A preterm birth is one that occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy. Prematurely born babies, often called preemies, may suffer from a great number of short-term health complications including underdeveloped lungs, heart problems, brain complications, metabolic complications, and poor immune system among several others. They may also suffer from long-term complications like impaired cognitive skills, cerebral palsy, and problems with vision and hearing among others. Apart from these health risks, parents have to deal with the emotional trauma as well as the financial strain that it places on them. If you’re a parent who has had a preterm birth, here are some things you should keep in mind.
1. Don’t Hesitate To Ask Questions
After a preterm pregnancy, your baby will have to undergo care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before you can bring him or her back home. The entire process might seem confusing and complex for any layperson. But don’t let that stop you from ensuring that you comprehend the complete process and everything that’s going on. Take notes. Ask questions. And do tons of research.
2. Listen To Your Intuition
Pay attention to your preemie’s needs. As a result of their lower immunity, they are highly vulnerable. If you notice that something might be off, ask your preemie’s health care provider immediately. Pay attention to every detail of their bodies, metabolism, temperature, and behavior. Ensure that you don’t disregard any gut feelings you may have especially when it’s concerning your baby’s safety.
3. Your Preemie Needs Breastmilk
When you have a premature baby, your breastmilk composition changes as well and is specifically designed for your preemie. It is essential that your preemie receives breastmilk and since you may not be allowed to care for your child yourself, you may have to start pumping. In the event the preemie’s mother is unable to supply the breastmilk, donor breastmilk providers can be approached.
4. Establish A Relationship With Your Preemie’s Caregivers
If your preemie is inside the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, you may not be allowed to touch or care for them yourself. This can be extremely painful to deal with. Ensure that you meet and speak with your baby’s health care providers. Clarify your concerns with them.
5. Document Every Detail Of Your Baby’s Care Routine
Your baby’s care routine will be systematic which will enable you to make a note of every detail of the process. Even if you trust your health care providers, it does not hurt to check if all the steps in the process have been completed. Documenting the steps and understanding them can help you notice if something has been overlooked or goes wrong.
6. Don’t Let NICU Jargon Stop You
The complicated NICU jargon may hinder your understanding of what’s going on. But do not let it stop you. You can look up what the words mean or study up a little so that you are able to follow everything that is being said.
7. Talk To Other NICU Parents
This period of time can be very emotionally traumatic for parents. Reaching out to other NICU parents can strengthen you emotionally and help you stay informed about everything you need to know.
8. Ensure You’re Getting Support From Your Family And Friends
Caring and being there for your preemie will most definitely become your first priority as a parent. This makes it difficult to handle any other responsibilities you may have. Ensure that you inform your family and trusted friends so that they can be there for you when you need them.